A while back I purchased the Headway theme framework for WordPress. Among other things, it offered a true drag and drop interface. Essentially, you could design a WordPress site without writing a lot of code. That appealed to me for a number of reasons. Also, there was no limit to the number of sites you could create using Headway. Unlike other premium WordPress themes, you didn’t have to purchase a separate licence for each website developed with Headway.
I purchased Headway Base last year during a special Black Friday sale where I got 25% off.
Though Headway indeed has a drag and drop interface, it is extremely sluggish and slow. Plus, you cannot use Windows Internet Explorer to work with Headway, you must use Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, or Safari. When I tried to bring up the Headway interface with IE9, I got a message telling me Internet Explorer doesn’t have any of the modern features Headway requires.
Last time I checked, Windows Internet Explorer 9 was the most popular browser on the Internets. The fact that Headway isn’t compatible with it seems… strange.
When I tried to use Chrome to work with Headway, it would take so long to switch between Grid or Design view, it would eventually time out. It would do this sometimes even when using Firefox, but not nearly as often as in Chrome. I never tried using Safari with Headway, so maybe it performs differently.
So last week I was trying to fine-tune the design of my blog in Headway when it timed out and would not load back up. Not only would the Headway interface not come back up, but the entire site also wouldn’t load either. I got just a WordPress white screen of death. I thought it was just the laptop I was working on, but when I went to pull my blog up on my desktop, I got the same thing.
I then proceeded to go through the standard WordPress troubleshooting steps. I renamed the plugin folder to something else thinking there may be a conflict. That didn’t fix it, not that I thought it would. I then renamed the Headway folder. After I did that, I was able to get the WordPress admin login screen and login, but the site was still showing a white screen. I went to the plugin screen and saw that all my plugins had been deactivated, but the notice wouldn’t go away when I left that screen and went back. That wasn’t normal. The fact that it was showing the warning over and over again led me to believe that there was a problem with the database. That made sense because Headway interfaces with the database on the server differently than regular WordPress themes. It’s one of the reasons you can’t just move the folder Headway resides in from one WordPress installation to another. If you want to move your finished Headway design from staging to live, you are encouraged by Headway to pay $75 for a plugin called BackupBuddy.
I renamed the plugin folder back to what it should be call and then installed a database repair plugin called WP-DBManager. I used it to fix the database, and when it was complete, everything was working again.
I’ve since gone back to running the default WordPress theme, Twenty Twelve, or more accurately, a child theme based on Twenty Twelve. I haven’t ruled out ever using Headway again. I just won’t be using it anytime in the foreseeable future, at least not with this blog. It might be more suited for creating brand new WordPress sites, not one as old and dusty as this blog is.